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“Where do the poor craftsmen go?”

Khawaja Nadeem Wayne, President Lahore Kite-flying Association; member, Basant Committee

“Where do the poor craftsmen go?”
Khawaja Nadeem Wayne.

“The people associated with the kite industry were all hunar mand (craftsmen). They had inherited the craft [of making kites] through generations. They had no investments, so they couldn’t switch business after basant was banned. Also, they knew no other skill, so they were suddenly left without a source of sustenance. In Lahore alone, there were more than 150,000 people who were put out of work. Most of these were women who were working from home. My question is, where do these poor craftsmen go? Over the past 11 or so years [since the ban], has the government ever tried to find out about them? Has the bureaucracy ever considered how these people would be making their ends meet?

“The festival is celebrated in other countries also — Dubai has four basants in a year, in different parts of the city, and India has at least six. They haven’t needed to ban it.

Read also: The kite’s the limit

“They always quote casualties as the reason behind the ban, and the casualties happened largely because of the glass-coated dor (string). But it wasn’t the craftsman who was making this kind of dor; it was the nau daulatiye (upstarts) who wanted a twist in the game.

“When you talk of kite-flying, it is only the motorcyclists that are at the risk. Can’t the government make it mandatory for the bikers to install a curved metal rod on their vehicles while the festival is on? It’s not a big deal, is it? The rod costs only about a hundred rupees but it can save precious lives. Recently, on a TV show, I even proposed a design and size for the rod which could make the bikers safe. Nothing has come of it so far.”

Read also: Basant or bust

Usman Ghafoor

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